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The Boston Globe

Magazine

The bigger dig

In the race to construct America’s first subway, Boston ultimately prevailed over rival New York City. But as a new book shows, there would be tragedy before triumph.

Adapted from The Race Underground by Doug Most. Copyright © 2014 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press LLC.

THE WORKERS WORE baggy pants, suspenders, long-sleeve shirts with the sleeves rolled up their forearms, and hats to protect their hair and eyes from flying dirt and rocks. They started at the corner of Boylston and Tremont and made their way toward Charles Street. The carts with their big wooden wheels were slowly pulled out of the hole by horses and replaced by empty carts, which were quickly filled and pulled away just the same. It was tedious, but in the course of a nine- or 10-hour day, with more than three dozen men applying their muscle nonstop except for a 30-minute lunch break, progress was fast.

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